Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 3, 2016 · 70 comments

Meatloaf cake

  1. My husband was given Portland Thorns (women’s MLS) soccer tickets, but we were unable to use them which was a huge bummer since they were in a fancy suite. However, we were able to pass them along to a friend, who then thanked us with a nice bottle of red wine.
  2. I splurged on last night’s April Fool’s dinner, which was a meatloaf, prepared in the shape of a layer cake and frosted with mashed potatoes. (My proud vegetarian father was with me when I bought the hamburger, and was shocked that it cost $7.99-per-pound at schwanky New Seasons.) However, I balanced it out with tonight’s burrito meal featuring slow cooked black beans and roasted potatoes. One expensive meal plus one extremely cheap meal level out to two reasonably priced meals.
  3. I put together a Buy Nothing group post offering a stack of recent decor magazines, and then wrote an additional post asking for a pair of sunglasses. Crossing my fingers, as my old sunglasses are an embarrassment due to one arm being missing. Yeah, I’m that lady.
  4. Our backyard lawn has once again bitten the dust, and it’s my husband’s instinct to reseed it as we do, every damned year. This means a yard that can’t be walked on for ages, plus watering and mowing. I say let the moss take over and accept it for what it is, which is deeply shady. I’m tempted to throw down a bed of mulch and then arrange outdoor furniture and potted plants. I am done fighting nature!
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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I’ve been writing The Non-Consumer Advocate since 2008, and it’s been an amazing ride, and for the most part it’s been a labor of love. I made a decision early on that I would not prioritize having the blog be very profitable, as that goal would contradict my message to minimize purchases and step away from a consumer lifestyle. Yes, I work with two different advertising networks to cover expenses, but have declined the daily offers I get for sponsored posts, sponsored links and general advertising.

I often joke that I could quit my job if I started a blog that accepted all the advertising offers that I receive for The Non-Consumer Advocate.

With the advent of two kids in college at the same time, the time has come to prioritize any and all income opportunities, which brings me to my big news:

The Non-Consumer Advocate is welcoming a new corporate partners! No I haven’t sold the blog, but the daily posts will each be sponsored by different companies that support the non-consumer lifestyle.

Sponsor #1:

Home Goods. With home as a haven, why not redecorate as often as you change your mood?

Sponsor #2:

Bank of America. From credit cards to fee-tastic bank accounts, Bank of America is America’s financial institution!

Sponsor #3:

H&M. We live in a global economy, so why not look to our planet’s most vulnerable workers to stitch our clothing? Clothing falls apart after a single wearing? Worry not, as replacement garments cost less than a cup of coffee!

I am very excited to be working with these forward thinking companies!

Click HERE for more details about the future of The Non-Consumer Advocate.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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It’s time again for Five Things That Make Me Happy And One Thing That’s Pissing Me Off. Why add the “One Thing That’s Pissing Me Off?” Because I’m a realist, that’s why.

Five things that make me happy

  1. My neighbor and I enjoyed a lovely walk plus brunch this morning, which was her way of thanking me for watching her cats while she was out of town. I suffered through terrible horrible no good very bad next door neighbors for an entire decade, but was later rewarded with the loveliest people!
  2. The Oregon sunshine has finally emerged from its perpetual cloud cover, and our blooming gardens are a sight to behold. Pale and bleary eyed Portlanders have emerged from their homes to greedily soak up the vitamin D, and citizens all across our dreary city are remembering why we live here.
  3. My husband and I each get paid every other Friday, which means that April is going to be a five paycheck month! Excellent timing too, since we just paid out a whopper amount for our older son’s college tuition plus room and board.
  4. The Happier podcast from Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. I really enjoy listening to these disparate sisters discuss happiness, habits and human nature. As much as I’d like to be an upholder, I’m a rebel, but am coming around to the positive aspects of my imbedded personality. (I insist on constantly reinventing the wheel, but as a result I often get a better wheel.)
  5. I finished my two-day work week yesterday, and don’t work again until next Thursday. Yes, my RN hospital shifts are long, but the days off make it worth being gone all day.

One thing that’s pissing me off

  1. The squirrels in my backyard ate through my rope clothesline, which means that I’m going to have to buy a plastic one, which annoys me since I hate to A) buy anything unnecessary, and B) buy plastic. Good thing those rascally critter are cute!

Now your turn. What’s making you happy, and conversely, what’s pissing you off?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 29, 2016 · 83 comments

Milk sell-by date

  1. We were out of milk so I stopped at Fred Meyer on my way home from dropping my son at school. I looked through all the gallons until I found two that had a “pull date” from yesterday, yet don’t actually have an expiration date until April 4th. I found an employee and had him mark them down, which brought the price from $2.59-per-gallon to $1.29-per-gallon. I can always throw one into the freezer if it seems like too much milk. (Note in the above picture the large expiration date, but the smaller sell-by date, which reads Monday the 28th.)
  2. I worked yesterday and like always, I brought my own lunch (leftover tortellini with red sauce) and drank the free crappy coffee. Someone had brought in leftover Easter chocolate, of which I enjoyed a few.
  3. I usually give my son $20 towards gasoline for the drive back to college, but instead I told him to cover it himself as we have a $7000 college bill coming up this Thursday. Every dollar counts, people. Every dollar counts.
  4. I have two Marimekko items that I’ve been meaning to list on eBay, and have decided to schedule them for April 17th when the Marimekko-Target line goes live. There’s likely to be peak Marimekko hype on that day and my items should do well as a result.
  5. I packed up three things to take the the post office today, (The Jansport backpack, a backpack that I’m selling and my son’s Ugg slippers which he forgot to take back to college.) I didn’t have boxes or big enough envelopes, so I cut open paper grocery bags and turned them inside out to create my own mailing packages. Yes, I used a laughable amount of clear packing tape, but in the end I avoided a purchase and used what I had on hand. Win-win!

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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I mentioned the other day that my younger son and I spent some time browsing our local Goodwill in search of hidden treasures. The seventeen year old? He wanted cool stuff to bring home. The forty eight year old? Always in search of the oddest and most wonderful items to photograph for blog posts. It’s an excellent goal for someone who’s trying to:

A) Not become a hoarder.

B) Spend as little money as possible at all times. (Seriously, people. Two kids is college at the same time is going to be tighter for us than an aging celebrity’s forehead!)

First up, this delightful bitchy nurse figurine. Yes, her nose is up in the air and she’s sporting a sour look on her face, but I’m a nurse and I get it. She’s worked 12 hours without a break and needs to pee, which is odd since she’s had zero chance to hydrate. She’s been told by a snotty doctor to carry this tray of mystery disgustingness across the hospital. No wonder she’s pissed. Who can blame her?!

Bitchy nurse

She should be applauded for her efforts to not scream.

Resting nurse face

Second up is this seriously groovy set of vintage kitchen canisters. So very Mad Men! I was tempted to buy them for resale, but I decided to leave them for whichever random Portland hipster spied them next. And knowing Portland, that was likely a fifteen second lag time.

Vintage kitchen canisters

I dare you to not fall in love with these angular graphics!

coffeeandsugar

So much better than this Neal Diamond special. C’mon people, altogether now:

“Forever in blue jeans!”

Well . . . flour storage, that is. Your flour storage would forever be in blue jeans.

Blue jean canisters

I was drawn to this vintage bar stool, of which there were two. I’ve been keeping an eye out for something exactly like this, as I fell in love with a similar one on Little Green Notebook. Yes, it’s super ugly. Vintage, but not cool vintage, but wait one stinking minute before you judge.

vintage bar stool

Look how ugly the Little Green Notebook chair was before she spray painted it. So ugly. So very, very ugly. Have I mentioned that it’s ugly?

Little Green Notebook chair - Before

I think this is one of this most dramatic before-and-after projects on the blogosphere! Alas, I didn’t buy the chair, as it was priced at $19.99, and my budget for this kind of thing right now is curbside find. 

Little Green Notebook - chair after

Luckily, I had all these dogs to cheer my up. Why do they cheer me up?

Ivan The Adorable

Ivan and books

Because my sister’s dog, A.K.A., “Ivan The Adorable” is a mixed breed rescue with similar markings. And thanks to the futuristic world that we currently live in, I was able to text all these photos to my sister in New York City.

By the way, this is my “sad puppy” face. You’re welcome.

texting

Last up in my Goodwill treasure hunt is this Sports Illustrated shoe phone, which featured heavily in countless late night commercials from the early 1980’s.

Shoe phone!

A blast from the past for sure!

Shoe phone!

Oh, Goodwill. . . your diamonds in the rough never fail to amaze!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 27, 2016 · 35 comments

Free pile

  1. I brought home an armload of stuff that some neighbors had piled on top of their retaining wall. This included a dish drain, (nicer than my rusty one) two tins, a Cuisinart toaster, two full bags of sugar, a vintage pepper shaker, a bulk bottle of Windex and a stainless steel pasta server. Score!
  2. My older son broke the zipper on his Jansport backpack, so I printed out the form to get it fixed for free. Yes, we’ll pay the postage, but it’s worth it to keep this otherwise sturdy and functional item in circulation. I’m pretty sure that my husband bought this backpack at Costco when my son was a fourth grader, but they do have lifetime warranties on their items!
  3. My younger son ended up not activating his driver’s license, as there was a surprise test he needed to take as an under eighteen-year-old driver. This is actually good, as it turns out it was going to cost an additional $186-per-month to add him onto our USAA insurance as a secondary driver. He was going to pay this himself, but holy moly, that is an enormous amount of money!!! We can now take the time to shop around for a better rate.
  4. My twenty-year-old son and I sat down last night to take care of random business before he headed back to college this morning. It wasn’t what he was in the mood for, but he can now cross filing his taxes and applying for summer employment from his to-do list. It would easy for me to do all this for him, but it’s very important to me that he hones these important adult life skills. (He’s been working as a lifeguard since age fifteen, but has to reapply each year.) He’s being rewarded with a generous tax refund as his reward.
  5. My older son and I had a conversation about which college meal plan is the best for him. We’ve been paying for the full meal plan, but he’s hardly ever getting to breakfast. We’re switching him to a lower plan which will provide lunch and dinner, plus an additional ten breakfasts per term, and will save us $270.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 25, 2016 · 60 comments

Thrifted Arsenal Shirt

  1. My younger son realized that his learner’s permit had expired last month, so he stopped driving. However, he passed his driver’s test last May through his driver’s education class, and was given the paperwork to bring to the DMV to activate the license. This paperwork is good for one calendar year, and we held off from activating the license as it would immediately increase our car insurance rates. (We live in a very accessible urban neighborhood. so my son doesn’t actually need to drive.) We realize that we’re in an odd situation with an approved license, yet an expired permit, so we’re going to the DMV today to activate the license. My son wants to stop worrying about this, and has agreed to pay for his own insurance. Our gift for his eighteenth birthday was going to be the license, so we’ll take over the insurance payments in May. (Boy is this convoluted, I’m not sure if I explained it well!)
  2. Since his eighteenth birthday was on my mind, I went ahead and reserved a Portland Art Museum cultural pass through the Multnomah County Library for my son’s birthday weekend. This free admission will save us $40 and be the anchor for a downtown birthday day of adventures. My son is an artist and really enjoys museums, so this will be greatly appreciated.
  3. My son asked to go Goodwill yesterday, so we drove down to the main store. I spent my time photographing odd and wonderful items, while my son scoured the store for hidden gems. He found a genuine Arsenal soccer jersey in his size for $6.99, which sells for up to $90 on the internet. He had a gift card leftover from Christmas, so his out of pocket cost was zero.
  4. I gassed up my Prius at Costco, since I was already in the neighborhood after dropping our exchange student at the airport. I paid $1.93/gallon, and noticed that the gas stations on the way home were selling for $2.20/gallon. I drove a lot more than normal over the past week, which sent us over our budgeted amount for gasoline this month.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

It’s time again for Goodwill, Badwill Questionable-will, where I share some of the rather spectacular things I come across during my thrifting adventures.

First up is a very special treat for you. Why? Because it combines steampunk with snails, clocks and monkeys. Plus, it’s priced at $19.99, which I would expect from a priceless antique, but this bizarre juxtaposition of whatnot is plastic, as can be seen by the broken off right foot.

Truly baffling in so many ways.

Steampunk monkey

Next up is a pepper shaker sporting glued on florist marbles and wire. I have asked you before to stop gluing florist marbles onto stuff. It is ugly, it has always been ugly and it will always be ugly. Nobody wants to receive it as a gift, not your gramma, your aunty, your momma, your mammy. (<– Macklemore quote!)

I beg of you, please.

IMG_2315

Remember how I always come across targeted savings banks? Well today was no different from any other day. (<– Passover reference, yo!)

Collage-of-banks

My old friend Hobo Warren Buffett made a repeat appearance, this time sporting a rosier nose and a dirtier plinth. (Seriously, compare him to his doppelgänger above.)

Hobo savings plan

Not to be outdone is the new-to-me Trip Money bank. She fits quite nicely with her brethren:

  • Retirement Fund
  • Wine Fund
  • Green Fees
  • Girls Night Out
  • Therapy in a Jar
  • Casino Money
  • Tax Money
  • Swear Jar

They like to travel in groups.

Vacation savings plan

And although “Katy” is far from a rare and exotic name, “Katy with a Y” is. Which is why this placard caught my eye. Luckily my younger son was present to snap a quick photo of me posing with my namesake. I did not buy it, as I have come to the point in my life where I can procure that shopping rush from photographing instead of buying fun but unnecessary (an unwanted) items.

A key towards my goal of an uncluttered home.

Katy!

I saved the very best oddity for last because that item, my dears is:

Flamboyant New Gingrich!

You know, from how Liberace would display a photo of Newt.

  • Rhinestones? Check.
  • Cloisonné? Check.
  • Exotic Key West-style bird? Check.
  • Newt Gingrich with a come hither hand gesture? Check.

Man, do I love Goodwill!

Flamboyant Newt Gingrich

What did I buy?

Just this small Jonathan Adler-esque flower pot. I have been wanting to start adding indoor plants to my house ever since I read The Crunchy Chicken’s Non-Toxic Avenger book. You know, for purifying the air. So why not do it in style?

The flowerpot was priced at $2.99. However, it was half-off as it had a purple tag. (This week’s 50%-off color.)

And $1.50 is well within this Non-Consumer Advocate’s price range for impulse purchases.

Flowerpot

See how well it pairs with my Adler-esque lamp?

Adler-esque flowerpot

Mind you, it’s no flamboyant Newt Gingrich, but a girl can’t ask for everything in life.

Have you been finding treasures in your thrift shops lately? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Goodbye Kentaro

Today we dropped our Japanese exchange student off at the airport, and said our emotional goodbyes.

I cannot over emphasize how valuable it’s been to my family to host these foreign exchange students through the years. (Twenty plus exchange students/teachers at last count.) We don’t have the budget to do much international travel, but even if we did, we’d likely sleep in hotels rather than stay in people’s homes. You simply cannot compare the experience of being welcomed into someone’s home to renting a hotel room.

With my younger son off to college in the fall, I’m unsure when we’ll host again, so this experience was extra special.

Hosting costs next to nothing, yet fosters a rich connection that makes our great big world a little bit smaller.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 20, 2016 · 83 comments

Walking

  1. My family treated our Japanese exchange student to the Portland Timbers soccer game last night, which was a hit. Kentaro wore the Timbers T-shirt that we’d gifted to him and he picked out a scarf to borrow for the game. My son later told him to keep the scarf as a gift, which was much appreciated.
  2. I spent a satisfying hour pruning our hydrangea hedge yesterday, which completely filled our yard debris can. I’m taking care of the neighbor’s cats while they’re out of town, so I rolled the can to their curb, which is a nice perk of this arrangement. (I share garbage/recycling/yard debris services with a different neighbor, which is only a problem when it comes to yard debris.)
  3. It’s very easy to spend a ton of money when hosting exchange students, and so far we’ve been very deliberate with the budget. I assembled a lunch of tasty tapas yesterday, even though it was tempting to eat in a restaurant. However, I did spontaneously drive through Burgerville for my older son and Kentaro last night, which set me back $20. (They’re delicious, but so expensive!) I kept things under control by eating the leftover tapas as my dinner. I took one for the team, because man-o-man did those cheeseburgers smell amazing!
  4. My older son is home from college for spring break, which is wonderful. His luxurious blond hair is longer than ever, and I’m always reminded of the hundreds of dollars we’ve saved through the years by his refusal to get haircuts. I’ve never been particularly bothered by his long hair, even when he was an elementary school student, as I always figured “it’s just hair.” My younger son likes a haircut every six weeks or so, which becomes less financially painful when balanced with his brother.
  5. I relisted my curbside rocking chair on Craigslist, I’ve been cooking from the pantry, I got paid for a Clark Howard piece, I listened to free podcasts on my hand-me down iPhone, I kept up with my Every Dollar budget, I wore my ancient clothing and I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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